UK's first 'super' nature reserve created at Purbeck Heaths

Bog pool at Arne, Purbeck Heaths, Dorset

We want more of you to experience the beauty of landscapes where wildlife is protected and allowed to thrive.

This is why we've teamed up with seven other conservation organisations to create the UK's first 'super' nature reserve at Purbeck Heaths in Dorset.

We know that working together with like-minded partners has a big impact on the environment and the recovery of nature. To this end we've created the national nature reserve in partnership with Natural England, RSPB, Forestry England, the Rempstone Estate, Dorset Wildlife Trust and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, along with other landowners and managers. 

Spanning 8,231 acres, the reserve brings together 11 essential wildlife habitats, allowing animals, reptiles, birds and insects to move more easily across the landscape and adapt to the challenges brought by the climate crisis. This will help a variety of rare wildlife, including the sand lizard, the Dartford warbler, and the silver-studded blue butterfly. 

Wildlife at Purbeck Heaths

Purbeck Heaths is one of the most biodiverse places in the UK. This precious landscape on the shores of Poole Harbour is home to thousands of species including 450 that are listed as rare, threatened or protected. Keep an eye out for heathland birds, such as nightjar, Dartford warbler and woodlark. You've also got a good chance of spotting larger birds of prey, including hen harrier, merlin and osprey.

The area is also home to Britain's rarest dragonfly, the southern damselfly, and Dorset's only colony of small pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies. There are also rare reptiles (smooth snakes and sand lizards) and at least 12 species of bats. Among the many unsual plants that flourish here are marsh gentians, great sundews and lesser butterfly orchids.

Discover Purbeck Heaths
" For generations to come, Purbeck Heaths will be at the heart of a healthy, resilient mega-landscape brimming with wildlife. "
- Mark Harold, Director of Land & Nature, National Trust
 Bumblebee flies around cherry blossom at Sheringham Park, Norfolk

Wellbeing and nature 

Exploring wild places can improve our health and wellbeing, and the National Nature Reserve at Purbeck Heaths will open up the countryside to many more people. Our recent research found that spending time in nature can make us feel happier. Discover why we're encouraging people to take time out to notice the beauty of their surroundings.

Top facts on UK's first 'super' nature reserve

  • The new site combines three existing national nature reserves at Stoborough Heath, Hartland Moor, and Studland and Godlingston Heath.
  • The site is made up of a rich mosaic of lowland wet and dry heath, valley mires, acid grassland and woodland, coastal sand dunes, lakes and saltmarsh. 
  • The expansion will create the largest lowland heathland national nature reserve in the country, allowing wildlife to thrive.  
  • Purbeck Heaths is home to at least two fungi that are found nowhere else in England and Wales – the sand earthtongue and Roseodiscus formosus.  

Our cause

We protect and care for places so people and nature can thrive. We look after the nation's coastline, historic sites, countryside and green spaces, ensuring everyone benefits.